Heritage Forests Campaign Once They're Gone, They're Gone Forever
The Roadless Rule
Threats to Roadless Areas
Politics and Policy
America's Roadless Areas
Enjoying Your Wild Forests
Roadless Areas by State
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Protecting America's National Forests, a report by the Heritage Forests Campaign

In This Section


" Rulemaking

" Litigation

" Public Support

" On Capitol Hill


On May 5, 2005 the Bush administration repealed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protected America's last wild forests from road building and resource extraction.

The administration's rule eliminated all protections provided by the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, reverting management of these areas back to existing forest plans. See the USDA press release.

Nationwide, forest plans allow road building in 34 million acres of inventoried roadless areas (IRAs), or about 59% of the 58.5 million acres of IRAs. Thus, without action, most roadless areas will be vulnerable to new road construction for logging, energy development and other commodity uses. In addition, under new regulations, forest plans are susceptible to modification without full environmental review, meaning that even those areas "protected" under existing forest plans could be opened to development with little notice or process.

The Administration's policy requires governors to petition the U.S. Forest Service within 18 months in order to protect roadless areas in their states. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is free to accept or reject these petitions at will.

In sum, the administration's roadless policy opens the door to road building and logging in America's last roadless forests and requires an onerous petition process, for protection that is stacked against roadless area conservation rather than a national conservation policy. With more than one-half of America's national forests already open to logging, mining and drilling, it is important that these last wild lands are receive national protections...Because Once They're Gone, They're Gone Forever.

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The Roadless Rule was finalized in January 2001 after years of scientific study, 600 local public hearings and meetings and a record number of public comments. The Forest Service received over 2.5 million comments in favor of the rule during its development. The rule protected 58.5 million acres nationwide while allowing temporary road construction in order to fight wildfires, protect public safety, and promote forest health. The Roadless Rule ensured that national forests would provide habitat for fish and wildlife, clean drinking water for millions of Americans, and endless opportunities for recreation.

Photos of Forests